Cleaning Gutters: Don’t Be Like Heather

Heather says:

Learn from me -Unless you have one of those clog free gutter systems like they advertise on the radio. all. the. time. – add “clean out the gutters” to your list of semi-annual maintenance.

Why?

clean out your gutter

 

Gutters are not for gardening.

Gutters are not for gardening.

Gutters collect leaves and twigs. These leaves, twigs, and ahem, saplings prevent the the flow of water. When the water doesn’t flow down the spout it can pool, which will rot wooden gutters, rust metal ones, or eventually cause the gutters to pull from the roof. During a heavy downpour clogged gutters overflow instead of diverting the water from the home. This increases the possibility of damage to the foundation, or excess moisture or flooding (aka really excessive moisture) in the basement or crawlspace. High humidity can be a welcome mat for some pests as well as the ever obnoxious mold and mildew problems that may develop.

If you have access to a pressure washer the chore goes quickly. Use the fan setting and do not spray the roof or in your eyes. Seriously, it’ll hurt, in fact, wear protective eye wear.

Pressure washer in action

Tell the kids to play elsewhere, this gets messy. Really messy.

It’s important not to spray water under your shingles as the high pressure may damage or loosen shingles and then you’ll be out the time and money you could have saved by attempting this relatively simple chore yourself. If you don’t have a pressure washer, it will take a little longer but it can still be done.

Make sure you have a sturdy pair of work gloves and scoop all the crud out by hand. Tedious? Yes. Effective? You bet.

Be careful as most gutters are attached with sharp screws. The gloves are mandatory.

Gutters CleanOnce the debris has been cleared from the trough, use a garden hose to ensure water flows down the spout. Most spouts have a bend within reach of the top. With your gloves on, pull out any debris that may be blocking the flow.

If all the reachable debris has been removed and water is still not flowing freely, feed a snake* up from the bottom. This handy tool will allow you to pull out almost any clog.

clean the outside of your house

Click the picture for more tips!

*Not a live snake, a plumber’s auger, these come in handy and I highly recommend all home owners have one in their tool box.*

Check to ensure all the the downspouts are properly diverted away from the house and you’re all done until next time.

Good luck.

Submitted to  A Soft Place to Land DIY Day Outdoor Edition.



12 Comments

  1. IainJenkins on July 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I recently bought a pressure washer just for this job. Despite making things a bit better it still has to be the worst <a href=”http://www.earticlesonline.com/profile/Iain-Jenkins/251574″>diy</a> job their is, but I guess it is a necessary one.

  2. Dylan on October 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Another option that you can use is a leaf blower. It is the same concept as the pressure washer but using air speed instead of water. This can be less messy because you aren't making all the debris wet before pushing it out of the gutter.

  3. glenbo on November 21, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    A few years ago ], I was cleaning my gutters the old fashioned way, with my hands (yuk!), and the ladder slipped and fell! Two years later, and one broken ankle, I decided to invest in those gutters that are covered (forget what they're called now). Although I've had to do occasional maintenance on them, the blustery St. Louis fall has proven to be no match for them! For the clumsier people among us, I'd suggest looking into a covered gutter system 🙂

  4. Diaper Cake Becca on July 11, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Another option….move to the deserts of Arizona. We don’t even have gutters on our houses!!

    • Heather on July 12, 2009 at 8:58 am

      OK, you start finding my husband a new job and we’ll get on that. I have family in Benson, Phoenix, and some other town that is slipping my mind. 😉

  5. Becca on July 11, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Clogged gutters can also be a breeding place for mosquitoes if it rains often enough and stays moist. Probably not a huge risk in the summer, but it could happen in the springtime and rainy season.

    • Heather on July 12, 2009 at 8:57 am

      Oh, it’s a risk here. Those horrid things are everywhere. I was grossed out when I saw the larvae in my fountain (that I haven’t turned on in a bit). I admit to finding great satisfaction in destroying them.

  6. Keter on July 11, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    LOL! Yes, I saw that garden-gutter thing, on Inhabitat.com, I believe. Clever, and when I get to rebuilding the deck, I plan to use them along the perimeter – deck floor and upper rail – to add some easily accessible edible greens.

    As for the gutter thing, most of the houses I’ve been in didn’t have them, as I live in a relatively dry area and none of the houses have basements. The one I now own, however, had a run of gutters on one side of the house only (?) – huge custom-made galvanized troughs – and it was obvious they had never…ever…been cleaned out in the 30+ years since the house was built. They were filled to the very brim with humus, which went into the compost heap. The downspout, however, resisted pressure washing and snaking: it was packed solid with over sixteen feet of dirt. I ended up sawing it off and discarding it. Now there’s a rain chain hanging there, and the gutters work. It’s still weird that this house even has gutters…it has a flat roof and as far as I can tell, it drains evenly over all sides.

    • Heather on July 12, 2009 at 8:55 am

      We don’t have basements here, either. It only takes a determined child to hit our water table.

      I had never heard of rain chains until your comment. Those look pretty neat.

      In the next few years, I’d like to rig up rain barrels, as far as I know they are legal in my area.

      • Ceci on July 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm

        You can use rain chains to rinse your dog.. Seriously. My parents have rain chains and when it’s hot the dogs will lie under the chains once the rain has stopped and let the water drip on them. They do this when it is actually raining too, I think they just like the chains.

  7. The Chatty Housewife on July 11, 2009 at 7:15 pm
    • Heather on July 12, 2009 at 8:51 am

      Yes, but gutters intending to divert water away from your home is such an unwieldy phrase that I figured y’all could play along. 😛

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